Mental health is an important subject for children to understand. However, explaining mental health to your child can be complex and challenging. With expert tips, you can easily navigate these conversations and grow closer as a family. Also, the information below can be used when talking to students, teenagers, and others.
What Is Mental Health?
According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health includes “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Before you start explaining mental health to a child, you need to understand it yourself. Also, it helps to have a clear definition to share and use later on.
Why is mental health important? First, it influences our stress management, relationships, decision-making, and more. Second, everyone has their own mental health to take care of. Just like how we nurture our heart health or strength, we also support our mental well-being.
Why Talk to Your Child About Mental Health?
Children’s mental health is a growing concern. Also, talking about how we feel helps discover possible mental health issues. By opening up to others, we increase awareness and get closer to diagnoses and treatments. Families are diverse, and reasons for explaining mental health to little ones are just as varied. Consider the following motivations.
- Explaining family mental health issues and family dynamics
- Helping them spot signs of mental illness
- Talking about all types of health like physical and emotional
- Identifying possible mental health problems
9 Tips for Talking About Mental Health
You know your family best. However, the following ideas can help you prepare and lead crucial conversations on mental health. Ultimately, it’s important to be transparent and respectful.
1. Communicate Clearly
Being straightforward is the best way to speak with children. This way, they can more easily understand what you’re saying. Also, clarity helps in conversations with adults. There’s no need to rush these discussions. You may even want to prepare notes ahead of time to make sure you explain things as plainly as you can.
2. Speak at their Level and Age
A child’s development and age can determine what they comprehend. For instance, a preschooler cannot typically understand as many details as a teenager. It’s important to meet your child where it’s best for them to understand.
3. Ensure They Feel Safe and Comfortable
Mental health can be a sensitive topic to discuss, so make sure your child feels safe and comfortable to open up. By checking in with them and talking to them when they’re ready, you can have a more productive discussion. They may even tell you about their own feelings and experiences with things like anti-bullying and schoolwork.
4. Actively Listen
One way to actively listen is to watch your child’s reactions. Specifically, look for moments when they seem confused or upset. When this happens, you may want to ask them how they’re feeling or revisit what caused that reaction. In general, make sure you regularly check in with them.
5. Reassure their Feelings and Experiences
Your child may voice feelings about safety, friends, family members, and more. It’s important to make your child feel accepted and not judged for how they think. Validation is a great feeling for children to receive from their parents because it inspires greater trust in a family.
6. Do Your Research
If you plan on talking about a specific topic, then make sure you learn about it before discussing it with your child. For example, it you want to talk about anxiety, then take time to research the condition, associated behaviors, and more. This helps you answer questions.
7. Ask Your Child Questions
By asking your child about their thoughts and feelings, you involve them in the conversation. Additionally, they feel encouraged to open up to you, knowing that you’re interested in their opinions. Last, asking questions helps the conversation feel more collaborative and less one-sided.
8. Encourage Them to Ask Questions
Young children may ask a lot of questions. This interest is great to see, but make sure you answer one question at a time and that your child understands what you’re discussing. When responding, answer their questions in a straightforward and honest manner.
Additionally, teenagers prefer to have a dialogue and to not feel like they are being lectured. By encouraging them to ask questions, you create a constructive and enjoyable discussion for everyone involved.
9. Continue Conversations
Make sure your first time explaining mental health isn’t your last. As your child grows, they will face new challenges and may encounter their own issues with mental health. It’s important to remind them that you are there to support them through every stage of life.
Cures of Colors’ conversational coloring book on mental health can help spark discussions and engage children. As a family, you can use the book as a guide and can revisit it for future talks. Tools like these help break down complex issues and bring people together.
Help Your Child Understand Others and Themselves
Figuring out how to talk about mental health can feel intimidating. With respect and empathy, these conversations can become the foundation for trust in families. Clarity and communication can be achieved and can help your children be their healthiest and happiest selves.
To continue meaningful talks with your kids, browse and shop Cures of Colors’ conversational coloring books.
FAQs: Explaining Mental Health
1. What is mental health in simple words?
Mental health is the well-being of someone’s mind. This might affect their emotions, feelings, thoughts, and actions. Some people feel and think differently than others, so they do certain things to help their mental health. For example, someone may exercise to help them think more clearly.
2. How do I explain mental health to a 7 year old?
To explain mental health to a young child, make sure to speak clearly and to check they understand you. Talk through the topic on a level that matches their age and development. For instance, avoid adding too many details and perhaps relate it to things they care about.
3. How do I teach students about mental health?
How you discuss mental health with students depends on their age, grade level, and more. Communicate clearly, make sure they feel safe and comfortable to share, and encourage them to ask questions.